How having an amazing teacher can change your life
Get ready for one long text post.
I started playing horn in seventh grade and I was really shy, like hopelessly shy. Playing in front of people was impossible for me. My middle school music teacher was annoyed by it, but didn’t do much to change it. So I just never played solos. Ever.
Then I started high school. It was horrifying walking into the music for the first practice. I was one of two horns in the entire school. The other one was in 11th grade so I was all alone in jr. Band. And then the music teacher walked in. And everything went down hill from there.
This man was the most egotistical person I’ve ever met. (We took coach buses everywhere we went cause it was good for our ‘image’, it’s uncommon to take a coach bus here) He didn’t care how bad he made us feel when we screwed up. If it wasn’t perfect he wasn’t happy, cause that meant we wouldn’t get gold at festival and that’s all he cared about. He made that very clear. I practiced so hard to be able to play the way he wanted me to. It only made my previous anxiety about playing worse. I cried so much during rehearsal and he didn’t care he just kept going and basically told me to get it together.
When band class started in second semester of that year. I couldn’t play in front of people without bursting into tears. My final solo was a disaster. After that, I wanted to put down my horn and never play again.
But I played again next year. He needed his horn player. I was “important to the integrity of the band” He convinced me to come back and It was a little better.
Until the musical started. We did into the woods as our musical and everyday after school for three months I had to deal with his need for perfection. I was told I wasn’t good enough, everyday for three months. It wasn’t a typical conductor saying we weren’t going to be ready to perform a piece. He said we were horrible. I started crying once and he told me to “get it together, real performers don’t cry” All he did was berate me and others. I hated myself.
When our longer weekend practices started we would break for half an hour for dinner. One day we were screwing one part up. He wouldn’t let us eat until we played it perfectly. By the time we did we had five minutes to shove food down our throats, or what was left of it after the cast ate anyway. It was the lowest I’d ever felt in my life. We are high school students, not professional players.
But then it all changed. For the better (thank god)
I moved about a year ago, just after we finished our musical and started at a new high school this year, so I had a new music teacher. I remember the first day walking into the music and instead of a gloomy, hateful atmosphere. It was loud and happy place and everyone was laughing and a shoe went flying through the air. I approached the music teacher and told her I play horn. She was giddy. She told me about all the bands they have at the school and about the music they play and stuff they do, and before I knew it I was going to fall music camp.
It was the most fun I’d ever had with music ever. I made so many friends and began to come out of my shell. She complemented my playing and instead of berating me when I played it wrong she would help me. She made me excited to play my instrument, something I hadn’t felt in two years. Recently for a solo in class, she brought in her own horn and played with me so I could hear how it sounded and felt. She nor any of my band mates made me feel horrible about myself again. I’ve only ever cried once at a rehearsal this year. I started to get way more confident. I can play when she calls on me. It’s hard to believe I’ve only been at this school for seven months.
I told my new teacher at the beginning of the year, right off the bat, I would never play a solo for her.
Today, at festival, I played a solo in front of a heck of a lot of people and an adjudicator.
I have no idea why I kept playing horn at my old school when he made me feel so bad about myself. But that doesn’t really matter now. I’m happy at my new school and really proud of how far I’ve come. It really goes to show you what the difference between a good and bad teacher can make for a student.
IF YOU PLAY THE 2nd, 3rd, OR 4th PART OF THE MUSIC IN YOUR BAND, YOU ARE IMPORTANT. I’M COMPOSING A PIECE AND THE HARMONIES PROVIDED BY THESE PARTS LITERALLY ALMOST MADE ME CRY. DO NOT DOUBT YOUR IMPORTANCE.
“I remember when I met him, it was so clear that he was the only one for me. We both knew it, right away. And as the years went on, things got more difficult. We were faced with more challenges. I begged him to stay. Try to remember what we had at the beginning.“